Spanning the sea of headphones these days can be confusing. The choices are overwhelming sometimes and being able to narrow down your wants and needs are vital in the process of making a decision. Online reviews are helpful but everybody’s ears are different and you need to be able to sort out your options before you go and test a few headphones.
The reality is there’s headphones for many different types of situations and listeners are finding that it’s even worthwhile to have several pairs of headphones. So here’s a few helpful tips and hints that will help you find A Headphone Just For You.
Choosing The Right Headphone
Headphones come in all shapes and sizes but each one is designed with a purpose in mind. Deciding your budget is important before beginning your search. You’ll also want to think about if you want a headphone (on-ear / over-ear) or earphone (in-ear headphone).
The best way to narrow the selections down from there is to think about what you’re going to use your headphone for most. We’ve broken it down into 5 simple categories that include all in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones for every situation.
Along with these categories you’ll find some basic elements of headphones to also be helpful. Headphones and earphones also come with optional features like Bluetooth (or wireless) and/or active noise-cancelling. Knowing if you want any of these features will help further narrow down your search.
Everyday: Music Listening / On The Go
Everyday headphones are for music lovers with mixed needs and limited budgets. These headphones are generally for daily listening in various everyday situations. They’re compact for commuting and extended traveling and they combine portability with high-fidelity. On the go headphones are typically closed-back and include cables with inline controls and mic for smartphone integration. Most sport earphones are also included in this category.
Includes: Over-Ear, On-ear, In-Ear (For daily use or sport), Most Bluetooth headphones, Noise-cancelling, Mostly Closed-back
Examples: Sennheiser 4.4BT, Sennheiser HD 4.4BT, JBL E50BT, Beoplay H6, Beoplay H9, Sennheiser HD1 (Momentum), Parrot Zik, Audio Technica M50x, Audio Technica MSR7, Audeze Sine, Audio Technica SR9, AKG Y50, Beats Solo, Beats Studio, Bose QC35
Pro Audio & Studio: Reference / Tracking / Live Music
Pro Audio headphones are designed for studio mixing and referencing. Many of these headphones have a relatively flat frequency response, wide frequency range and just a little boost in the bass. They’re also typically built with comfort in mind for long listening sessions. They can be either closed-back or open-back.
Includes: Mostly Over-ear (for isolation), Closed-back, Open-back (mainly for mixing), In-Ear for live music on stage
Examples: Audio Technica M70x, Focal Studio Classic, Beyerdynamic DT 770, Ultrasone 880 Pro, Sennheiser HD600 & HD650, Sennheiser HD 800 & HD 800S
DJ headphones are designed specifically for DJ needs. They’re portable, durable, capable of high SPL and have punchy bass and crisp high frequency response for track monitoring in loud club environments. DJ headphones typically have some kind of flippable or rotating earcup for individual source monitoring. Typically closed-back for sound isolation. Many DJ headphones and Pro-Audio headphones fall into the same category because they both require high-fidelity sound and are designed for long listening sessions.
Includes: Over-ear, On-ear, Closed-back, Some in-ear
Examples: Pioneer HDJ-500, Pioneer C-70, Audio Technica M50x, Ultrasone DJ1
Audiophile / Home Listening Headphones
Audiophile headphones are typically larger and very comfortable. Audiophile headphones are mainly open-back dynamic drivers or planar magnetic, audiophile headphones have the best overall sound due to wide frequency range and large soundstage. You typically won’t find this type of headphone in wireless due to the fact that optimum high-fidelity is mainly found in wired headphones. In the future however, this will likely change as Bluetooth standards and technology improve.
Includes: Over-ear, on-ear, Open-back, Closed-back, IEM (In-Ear Monitors)
Examples: Audeze EL-8, HiFiman 400i, Grado PS500e, Grado GH2 Limited Edition, Audeze iSine 10/20/30, Focal Elear, Beyerdynamic T1, Focal Utopia, Final Audio Sonorous Series, Final Audio Heaven Series, Shure 846, Sennheiser IE800, Westone W-Series
Gaming headphones come in all sizes and shapes. From large to small, gaming headphones are generally optimized for high-fidelity listening experiences and soundstage. Built in microphones for player interaction is common but not always included. Some serious gamers tend to integrate the microphone separately. Many gaming headphones are open-back for wide surround sound type soundstage but they also come in closed back.
Includes: Over-ear, On-ear, Closed-back, Open-back
Examples: Audio Technica ATH-AG1x closed-back, Audio Technica ATH-PDG1 open-back, Sennheiser GSP 350, Sennheiser G4ME ONE
Finding a headphone just for you typically comes down to two important things, budget and application. Once you know how much you can spend and how you’re going to be using your headphone you’ll find it easy to narrow down the choices. Everyday headphones are the most common and serve multiple functions while Reference headphones have a more specific use. Some people find that several headphones are necessary to serve the best functions in different situations. Whatever you choose, Audio46 has a headphone for everyone so stop by in our store in Midtown Manhattan or shop onine at Audio46.com